As we look forward to the new year, it’s time for reflection

Before considering your hopes for 2021, it’s important to ask yourself, “What have I learned this year?”

We are finally coming into the new year! Our children will tell their children how they hunkered down during the great coronavirus pandemic of 2020. Some — far too many — will share their stories of grief and loss.

We’re all looking forward to a better year, a year where our lives can become what they were again. With a vaccine, we’re starting to hope once more. I’m dreaming of holding my grandchildren in my arms. I’m dreaming of holding my daughters tight. I see a light at the end of this viral tunnel.

But the pandemic is not over yet. We’re in the middle of surging infections nationwide, with a scary number of hospitalizations and deaths. The next three months will be critical. It’s not a time to back down from this fight. It’s time to double down our guard to protect ourselves and each other. We can do it.

I’m not a big one for new year’s resolutions, having fallen off this wagon too many times. But I do like to reflect on the past year and consider what I would like to nurture in myself in the year ahead.

Before considering your hopes for 2021, it’s important to ask yourself, “What have I learned this year?”

I’ve learned that my adult daughters are tougher than I thought. I’ve learned to appreciate the small pleasures and joys of everyday life. I’ve learned how we can adapt, pivot and come up with new ways of connecting with each other. I’ve become more patient and learned how to better handle my impatience. I’ve realized the absolute importance of cultivating inner peace, especially when the world around me trembles.

But most importantly, I’ve learned to be even more grateful for the gift of life, especially in this time where more people in our country have died in the last nine months than in combat during the four years of World War II. It’s staggering to consider the loss and grief that so many families are enduring. I am grateful that, so far, I’ve been spared this pain. My heart and soul reach out to all those who have suffered this year. I want to hold them in my arms and comfort them.

As I look forward to 2021, I want to be more helpful to my family, my friends, my neighbors and my community. I want to be more patient with my wife, as we have spent more time with each other, shoulder to shoulder, in 2020 than ever before.

This last year, I have come out of my semi-retirement to provide more psychological care to our community members who are experiencing depression, anxiety and distress. It’s been a privilege to be able to use my 40 years of experience as a psychologist to help others weather this storm.

In this new year I hope to become a better husband, a better friend, a better brother, a better father and grandfather, and a better psychologist.

I hope to become a better person.

Paul Schoenfeld is a clinical psychologist at The Everett Clinic. His Family Talk blog can be found at

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